Some musings have already been written on eGovernment etc., available online. Some people have suggested "eDemocracies", which is a way for local governments to interact better with citizens. Not sure whether full interaction and eVoting on every little issue will actually improve quality of life (lack of information, misinformation or temporary ignorance could make it worse), but this post is more about using Open Source software for governments.
Have a look at COSPA, which is a project in the EU mostly for creating Open Source "Public Administration" software.
The reason for bringing this up because I am starting to think about developing a project in Recife with some colleagues from work. We're working on some presentations, ideas and initiatives in order to improve the quality of life of the environment. Probably at some point, we'll have some interesting learning points for everybody (maybe even writing a paper on it).
Now, already conferences are created on eGovernment, which are very interesting initiatives, especially if this brings more transparency to fight corruption. But then again, software by itself is not likely to make any changes. Venezuela is on OS (or should be by now, according to this statement 2 years ago).
COSPA has identified software used in Public Administration (12MB PDF). There is a very high "observation" in Italy, especially.
The above shows that in the near future, it is a possibility that all software written and used by governments can be custom-written and then evolve from there. What is FSF and a couple of geeks got together to start writing that software for government? Start off with local councils, then expand to whole cities, then expand to provinces & states, then expand to perhaps nations?
Having a code repository with GPL'd code ready for use for each country would be a very good win. And if there are processes available that allows other people to make contributions... This would be a very exciting project.
For now.... we are focusing on a very little area, the area where we work. We wish to improve worker's situations, improve the interaction with the community, clean certain streets (they smell or are dirty) and get rid of older buildings that are literally starting to fall down. (no joke!)
We'll have to organize this together with the city hall/council, people in "administration" @ the university, people in psychology, some software project management, a *LOT* of innovation and hopefully international interaction with other people. Might work out, really... Especially when the city hall is deciding it would be worth to start paying for it!
Very interesting because of this (maybe this can help?).
New tool in town: KnowledgeGenes.com
7 years ago